“Thor” — while not Shakespeare — is a passable Hollywood summer movie

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

THOR, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman.

Ah, “Thor.”

As in…gore?
Not that much really.

As in…lore?
What’s there is pretty skewed.

As in…more?
I’d say at least one sequel.

As in…bore?
Bingo.

Ok, one doesn’t expect much from a movie based on an odd stew of Norse mythology and Marvel Comics. Nonetheless, I was a fan, back in the day.

It’s the Hollywood Factor that worried me.

If anything, “Thor” is a little too goody-goody, thanks, I think, to director Kenneth Branagh, a long way away from his Shakespeare days but still an innately tasteful man. So it’s perfect for your 8-10 year old or a really, really undemanding fanboy who doesn’t get out much.

Thor (young Brad Pitt look-alike Chris Hemsworth) gets the full Hollywood Treatment that so many folks with long blonde hair and a great butt get when they try to get in good with a powerful producer…I mean, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins waxing ripe). Odin likes the kid (after all, they’re family), but a conniving type named Loki (Tom Hiddleston) pretends to be his agent…I mean, friend… but really stabs him in the back.

So Thor gets drop-kicked down to Earth and stuck in what might be described as a nightmarish reality show called Smalltown America — as imagined by people who have no idea what anything looks like in America aside from L.A. and NYC.

With the help of a pre-Oscar Natalie Portman and a post-“Mamma Mia!” Stellan Skarsgard (see, he’s Scandinavian and remembers those old stories about Asgaard), Thor must do two things: retrieve his hammer and get back up to Asgaard before the place is overrun by Frost Giants (whose leader wears something on his head that strangely recalls Princess Beatrice’s hat at the recent royal wedding).

Okay, so maybe I expected more from Branagh ,who probably expected more from himself (but is mostly relieved that the movie opened “big” as they say in Tinsel Town).

But we’re not talking…um…Shakespeare here. We’re talking a comic book hero. So it’s a little toothless , a little long and more than a little cheesy. At least it’s not vulgar or offensive and for a Hollywood Summer Movie, that’s pretty spectacular.

Even if “Thor” itself is NOT so spectacular…

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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